When to Harvest Cassava

Overview

Cassava, also called manioc or yuca, is an attractive tropical shrub grown for its large starchy tubers. Native to Brazil and Paraguay, easy to grow cassava tolerates a wide variety of soils and climatic conditions, but will not survive frost. Plants require eight to 18 months to reach maturity. You can prepare the peeled tuberous roots by boiling, baking or frying them-they taste a lot like white potatoes. Fresh tubers have a limited shelf life and are usually dried and ground into flour.

Step 1

Dig gently around the base of the plants with your hands to check if tubers are at least 2 inches in diameter.

Step 2

Remove all leaves from plants two weeks prior to harvest to significantly extend tuber shelf life.

Step 3

Grab the base of the stem with both hands and gently pull the tubers out of the ground. If the root mass is large, use a shovel to lever the root ball, but be careful to avoid cutting or bruising the tubers

Step 4

Cut the individual tubers from the stem with the knife.

Step 5

Gently wash away remaining soil from tubers and then pat dry with the towel.

Step 6

Place washed tubers in plastic storage bags and keep up to two weeks in refrigerator.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never eat cassava tubers raw because they contain hydrocyanic acid, which can be toxic. Cooking or drying reduces the toxin to negligible levels. The sweet varieties have been cultivated for their low toxicity, whereas the bitter ones contain higher hydrocyanic acid levels. Toxins are most concentrated in the outer peel of the tuber, which you should remove before processing or consuming.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Shovel
  • Sharp knife
  • Kitchen towel
  • Plastic storage bags

References

  • Stephen K. O'Hair, Tropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida
  • A Tropical Garden Flora; George W. Staples and Derral R. Herbst; 2005
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Keywords: Harvesting Cassava, Harvesting Manioc, Harvesting Yuca

About this Author

Malia Marin is a landscape designer and freelance writer, specializing in sustainable design, native landscapes and environmental education. She holds a Masters in landscape architecture, and her professional experience includes designing parks, trails and residential landscapes. Marin has written numerous articles, over the past ten years, about landscape design for local newspapers.